Rain Shell Reviews

Outerwear is better than ever—and also more complicated. Hard shells, softshells, hybrids: There are a lot of choices for rain shells and outerwear. Climbing's reviews will guide you through the maze of outerwear aisles to make the best choice for your climbs and your climate.
  • HPECBassecamp

    Gear Guide 2014: Basecamp

    Whether your digs are a sleeping bag under the stars or a shiny new Sprinter, here are 31 of the best new things to improve any climbing trip.

  • mountainhardwear

    5 Super-Light Shells For Spring

    Precipitation is the enemy of the rock climber, and few things are as disappointing as watching your project get drenched in a spring squall. Sport climbers and boulderers need an emergency shell for surprise storms, while ice and alpine climbers rely on these jackets to keep them dry and warm—a dire necessity—in their bad-weather battlefields.

  • Eastern-Mtn-Sports-Helix

    Eastern Mountain Sports Helix Jacket

    With around 30 backcountry testing days, from climbing Utah ice to teaching avalanche courses and skiing in the Pacific Northwest, the Helix proved its worth as a perfect “quiver of one” waterproof/breathable shell. Polartec NeoShell’s updated membrane is more permeable than the previous version, allowing air to pull moisture away from the skin at the first sign of sweat, rather than building up moisture before it’s released (which causes that clammy feeling).

  • Montbell-Tachyon

    MontBell Tachyon Anorak

    Pitch one might offer t-shirt conditions, but that doesn’t mean you’ll find “sun’s out, guns out” weather on pitch four, too. “It was 80 degrees and sunny when I placed my first cam,” says one tester of a late summer climb at Colorado’s Lumpy Ridge, “and then a half hour later, I was shivering in a whipping wind.”

  • Outdoor-Research-Lodestar

    Outdoor Research Lodestar

    After two seasons of ice climbing in this jacket, one tester compared it to an electric blanket. “It’s warmer than it looks,” he said. The secret is Polartec’s Power Shield High Loft, a precipitation-resistant, wind-blocking, stretchy fabric backed by a generously fluffy gridded fleece.

  • La-Sportiva-Stormfighter-GTX

    La Sportiva Stormfighter GTX Jacket

    The name says it all. This shell protected our testers from hail, rain, and eyelid-fluttering winds year-round in the Colorado high country. And at a whispery 11 oz., it’s stealth and compact enough to disappear into a pack and not be a weight liability.

  • Stio-Origins-Jacket

    Stio Origins Hoody

    One of the founders of Cloudveil recently launched Stio, a brand with a similar spirit (Jackson, Wyoming-based, designed for climbers and skiers—and cracking beers back in town). The Origins Hoody has become a tester favorite.

  • Westcomb-Focus-LT-Hoody

    Westcomb Focus LT Hoody

    When waterproof-breathable shells venture below 10 oz., you might have to make sacrifices, like non-adjustable cuffs or hood or limited breathability. Not so with the 6.9-oz. Focus LT: Testers praised this Spartan-butuseful jacket for blocking rain but never getting clammy and called it one of the best three-season hardshells they’d worn.

  • Arcteryx-Acto-MX-Hoody

    Arc'teryx Acto MX Hoody

    Take the weather resistance of the best softshell and marry it to the breathability of an unlined fleece, and you have the Acto MX. “It’s great for high-output activities in the alpine,” said one tester after climbing the Breithorn outside of Zermatt, Switzerland, on a crisp, bluebird day.

  • Patagonia-Exosphere

    Patagonia Exosphere

    “It’s like wearing armor,” said one tester after a two-week stint in perpetually weather-beaten south Patagonia, during which he rarely took the jacket off. “From climbing to sea kayaking to horseback riding, this jacket is perfect for the cold and wet, and it handles abrasion better than just about any other shell I’ve seen.”

  • Arcteryx-Jacket-660

    Don’t Leave Home Without It

    Bailing off the sixth pitch of Petit Grepon (5.8) in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, in the face of a rain and hail storm, our tester put this “emergency storm jacket for an alpine environment” to the test. The Arc’teryx Alpha SL Jacket ($319; arcteryx.com) was a godsend for the two-hour downpour while the tester and her partner rapped down almost 800 feet.

  • Sweat No More

    The Outdoor Research Mithrilite Jacket ($199, outdoorresearch.com) presents an extremely lightweight (24 oz.) and versatile softshell with full waterproof capabilities.

  • Change is Good

    The new Arc'teryx Gamma MX jacket for climbers is a definite upgrade, with its proprietary Fortius 2.0 fabric, which is blessed with enhanced durability and water resistance without any sacrifice of stretch or breathability.

  • TNF-Zephyrus_33588.jpg

    Apparel Engineering

    Four new jackets that break the mold - The term "hybrid" doesn’t just mean space-shippy little cars that save gas. Outdoor companies have adopted the word to mean apparel that combines multiple fabrics within a single layer for comfort and smart performance. Employing what they call “body mapping,” designers examine the way certain parts of our bodies work during high- and low-output activities, in all kinds of weather, and then put waterproof shell fabric where you need waterproofing, stretch panels where you need breathability, and insulation where you need warmth, all in the same layer.

  • GoLite-Malpais_31972.jpg

    Bring on the Rain: Hard Shells

    Testing a waterproof shell during a typically dry Colorado winter is like bringing your trad rack on a family vacation to Disneyland: pointless and futile. Ergo, we sent these seven shells from Climbing HQ in Boulder to testers across the country, from unpredictable Vermont to the soggy South and up to the waterlogged Pacific Northwest. When the sun insisted on shining, we went to extremes and stood in the shower or high-pressure car washes to gauge the full effect of these shells’ waterproof membranes and treatments.

  • GG-Camp-Magic-Jacket_31724.jpg

    2011 Gear Guide: Shells

    Shoulder season means one thing for long rock routes: Be fast, or be prepared. After a few too many times when I was neither, I’ve learned that I can always afford to carry a few more ounces. So when super-light, stuffable wind shells for climbers first started showing up, I bought one immediately. When the wall goes into shadow, the wind picks up, and you still have four more belays before the top, that triangle of nylon spinning from your harness will be on your back in a hurry, and you’ll praise the designers for making it hooded, wind-proof, and possibly even water-resistant.

  • EC-Singing-Rock-Crux_31219.jpg

    2011 Gear Guide Editors' Choice

    After months of testing on hundreds of routes, we offer up our picks for the most innovative, useful, and just damn good gear of the year. The Singing Rock Crux, Mammut Smart Alpine, Black Diamond Gridlock Screwgate, Petzl Grigri 2, Five Ten Arrowhead, Arc'Teryx Squamish Hoody, Beal Joker 9.1, North Face Verto, and Salewa Rapace GTX all won our high praises and took home the Editors' Choice Award.

  • Softshell Jacket Review - No 219 - March 2003

    A softshell is loosely defined as a garment that offers a high degree of weather protection and durability while maintaining excellent breathability and luxurious comfort.